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MAYA | What After Now?

Maya’s rich jazzy vocals are instantaneously striking for their beauty and individuality. Her unique sound, a mix of electronic and acoustic elements, is largely a product of her background, a cultural cocktail of Australian, African American and Hungarian roots.

“I have so many different aspects to my culture, and it builds such a versatile sound. It’s really meant that I’ve never felt like I have to be stuck to one way. As I get older, as this world changes, it makes me happier. The weirder, the better.”

Maya – real name, Maya Weiss – has not always been so content in herself, and is quick to admit she’s fallen victim to pressures to fit in and bullying over her 22 years on the planet. It’s only over the last three years, since leaving school, that she claims to have progressed beyond those feelings of self doubt.

“A lot of my childhood I really tried to change myself. I dyed my hair, I told people I was a freak. I never wanted to be in my own skin. But bullying, and all the aspects of that experience make for a stronger person.”

Her latest single What After Now is a anthem for living in the moment, something she felt compelled to write in response to the constant grind for more that underlines so much of the modern age.

“It means to live in the moment, to be free in who you are, to not stress so much. It’s a song to remind people that you can’t control our future but we can control our present.” Read more

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Bad//Dreems | Gutful

With the dawning of social media and increased connectivity, the public’s voices have never been louder. As the political climate changes, and the everyday citizen becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the status quo, it’s sometimes hard to know how best to use your voice. 

 

Affectionately labelled as pub rock, Bad//Dreems encompass so much of what makes quintessentially Australian rock music so identifiable, and with their new album Gutful, they hammer in a very political message.

Alex Cameron, the band’s guitarist, wants listeners to know, everyone’s opinions matter. “People may look at a band like us and assume that’s not what we’re about, and same thing with our fans. People may think that we may not believe in things like [social justice].

“That’s a real problem in the world right now, that we tend to stereotype, generalise and over simplify things, when in fact it’s very interesting to deliver those messages in the form of a garage rock’n’ roll song.”

The changes to the political climate over the past 18 months prompted the band to write about this heavy subject matter. From the Trump administration to the circus of Australian politics and the ongoing debates surrounding immigration, Cameron sighs as he admits, they’d had a gutful.

“The motivation for the title track is being fed up with the kind of round-a-bout, futile debates that take place in our world today, and of the bullshit being spouted by these people. Other songs are about more personal subject matter, and Mob Rule about the dangers of the mob mentality – it’s an album of the times.”

The aforementioned title track is considered a call to arms for those feeling underrepresented by public figures.

“You don’t need to have a PhD in humanities or political theory to be able to talk about these things. Obviously they’re very complex issues, but they can also be very simple. It’s an interesting exercise to write about issues which are very prominent in Australia right now. What better way to explore those issues than within a presumption about the genre?” Read more

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Ben Wright-Smith | The Great Divorce

Despite his talent, and the sheer volume of praise and support he’s received in his young life, Ben Wright-Smith is softly spoken and completely devoid of ego.

 He stammers as he reflects upon himself and his achievements, the completion and release of his debut album The Great Divorce not greatly affecting how he sees himself on the music scene.

“It’s funny with first albums, I think I feel more competent as a musician, but I think I’ve got to wait for people to hear it first, that will probably affect my confidence greatly. With music, I don’t know if confidence is the thing that matters. We make what we want to make, the main thing is the relief of having a full album that I can share with people, and say this is what I’ve been doing, this is what I’ve done, and this is how I wanted it to sound.”

Considering Wright-Smith’s impressive resume and masterful skill for songwriting, it feels strange that the APRA award nominated musician’s first album is only just being released. It arrives just over three years since he first made his way to the USA after being awarded the Australian Council for the Arts Nashville Songwriting Residency. The release of No One announced his arrival on Australia’s music scene in 2015, and the follow up, 2016’s Sand Grabber, demonstrated his ability to twist the genre of his music to make it his own. But the release of these two singles is an entirely different game to releasing this first album, Wright-Smith says. Continue reading

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Tracey Miller | Live at Warrawee

Tracey Miller is one of those people whose passion for music permeates every aspect of her life, and the happiness it brings her is tangible.

Rather than give up playing guitar after a freak accident with a louvre blind that saw her lose use of her left hand, she learned to use her hand again, and developed her own playing style. Yearly trips to Hawaii have seen her take up the ukulele and study harmony, with her accident, she says, making her a better musician.

After more than 25 years of teaching and singing in choirs, she’ll be leading the Mass Community Choir at Live at Warrawee Soul Explosion, a music festival put on by Monash City.

“There’s a lot of people out there who do community work, or help out their neighbours in some way, we should have things to celebrate in life, it shouldn’t always be about hard work. It’s a great way to get the community together,” says Miller.

“I know for a fact having taught choirs for many, many years that every single time anyone talks to me about their experience it’s just that they experience a lot of joy.” Continue reading

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Bob Evans | It’s tour time

He may have over two decades of experience under his belt, but it’s been nearly four years since Bob Evans, the alter ego and solo project of Jebediah frontman Kevin Mitchell, has taken to the stage in all his solo glory.

Having toured alongside good friend Josh Pyke in late 2016, Evans is well and truly warmed up for an extensive three-month tour across Australia, and ready to settle in to the solo-performance mindset.

“The band shows and the tour I did with Josh were both very structured shows and they had to be that way in order to work but playing on my own I have the freedom to do whatever I damn well like whenever the mood may take me and I won’t be blindsiding anyone. The whole thing rests on me, which is a good thing to do from time to time.”  Continue reading

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Northlane | Mesmer

Following a swell of curious buzz prompted by a mysterious YouTube video, a new single, and an oddly cryptic Facebook chat bot, Northlane has revealed their huge announcement to be the surprise arrival of new album Mesmer.

 

“It was meant to get people excited, but without really knowing what they’re excited for,” says frontman Marcus Bridge, of the unorthodox release. “We like a bit of mystery when it comes to starting things up again, so it was to get people talking, get people speculating, and it’s pretty funny to see the conclusions that some people have come to.”

Mesmer is a progression for the Sydney band, musically and thematically. Following on from the themes of previous album Node, the album stays true to Northlane’s traditional, heavy, metalcore, but with a fresh take of electronic elements and a new lyrical perspective.

“Jon is always moving forward and got the next thing in mind, so musically, he was always headed in this direction. I feel if anything, this is a clearer vision from our heads, because we’re more sure of what we’re trying to do. And we’re just trying to do what we like doing. Trying to express ourselves in different ways than we have before.”

In his second album as the five piece’s frontman, after joining the band alongside original members Jon Deiley, Josh Smith, Alex Milovic and Nic Pettersen, in 2014, Bridge is relieved to say he’s found a new confidence as a part of the band. A fan of a more personal approach when it comes to writing, on Mesmer he’s felt more comfortable revelling in his own personal style and voice.

“Some of these songs are a lot more personal than anything Northlane have touched on before, which is something very important to me. In terms of writing lyrics, I’m very much a writer from personal experience, I like to get feelings out, whereas Josh is a bit more worldly, out looking view of everything, and looking at the big picture of the world.” Continue reading

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The Shins | James Mercer

Though James Mercer, frontman of indie rock darling The Shins technically began work on the band’s new album, Heartworms, about two years ago, he confesses his songwriting is far from a linear process.

Mercer’s writing is a labour of love, and some songs on the record have been in the works for close to ten years.

“I’ve always done that, there’s always these ideas where I hit some sort of an impasse with the song, and I can’t figure out how to make it work, so I set it aside. There are songs that I was working on before Oh, Inverted World that I still can’t figure out, so hopefully they’ll come out one day,” Mercer says.

“Some of those songs I’ve been working on for so long. The Fear is a song I’ve had floating around for years. I remember showing Eric Johnson that song when he was in the band, so that would have been touring for Wincing the Night Away.”

Even the titular track has its roots far earlier in Mercer’s illustrious career.

Heartworms is pretty old, it’s something I was considering for Port of Morrow, but I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Otherwise, everything is new, and I wrote it during that gap after I toured with Broken Bells.”

Despite this, it’s far from disjointed. Mercer effortlessly brings the old and new together to create a cohesive and palatable structure. However, the album is dynamic in its emotions, something that makes a lot of sense when you take into account it was written over many stage in his life. Continue reading